As Deron Williams and other NBA players head to Europe and other far-off lands to play basketball during the lockout, they will need to protect themselves against injuries or anything else that may go wrong. They need insurance, and plenty of it.
That can be a problem for some international teams, especially for high-priced players like Williams. To make things go smoothly, the NBPA is getting involved to help teams and players find policies that work. From Jonathon Givony on Twitter:
The NBPA's goal is to find an insurance policy that European teams can pay on month to month basis, rather than upfront for the entire year
This plan seems smart, especially because many players who go overseas will want to return to the NBA if and when a new collective bargaining agreement is reached. Players will want flexibility with any foreign employer, and these plans provide it.
The NBPA's involvement in these plans also speaks to its belief that players spending some time in Europe is a good thing for their cause. In the wake of Williams' decision, several columnists and observers have argued that players looking at other countries shows a fractured front at a time when the entire union needs to stand as one. Others have claimed the opposite: Players are simply proving to owners that they don't need the NBA in the short term because other decent options exist. No matter your opinion, the union's actions here suggest that it supportsthe decision.
In part, that's because it's in its best interest to support its member players in any way possible. At its root, unions exist to protect the interests of their members. In the NBA, that means Billy Hunter and player reps must support everyone from the lowliest 15th man to a perennial All-Star. If players want to go overseas, then the union needs to make that decision a success in any way it can. When it gets into CBA specifics, it's likely that the union will pick a proposal that helps more than half the league over one that helps no more than 5 percent. For now, though, it doesn't need to make that decision.
The union doesn't want internal strife, but it'd be much worse if it protected some players and let others fail miserably during short jaunts to Europe. Ultimately, it has to protect every member as best it can. If it doesn't, then it appears weak and incompetent in ways that will rob it of any leverage it has in bargaining talks.